February 1 is the application deadline for priority consideration for scholarships for fall admission to master’s degree and certificate programs at the School of Information Studies (iSchool), including one of the iSchool’s newest graduate offerings, the M.S. in Enterprise Data Systems (EDS).

The EDS graduate program is designed for students who want to prepare for careers managing, designing, supporting, and optimizing the infrastructure that supports modern companies that have transitioned or are transitioning to a digital enterprise. Students learn about both conventional and future networking infrastructures and technologies, and gain knowledge about the devices, services, protocols, standards, and applications that support modern networks and cloud environments for enterprise-scale operations.

The rise of cloud computing across all types of businesses, plus the growth of mobile, social media, sensors, and big data uses in enterprises, along with an Internet of Things that connects billions of devices through worldwide networks makes those with EDS program skills in high demand, says EDS program curriculum lead and Associate Professor Carlos Caicedo.

There is much competition for new graduates with enterprise data systems skills, and those jobs pay well, he says. “The average pay for a cloud engineer is around $90,000 – $100,000, and that’s for a mid-level person,” Caicedo explains. “You could start out at $80,000 easily on any type of job in that field, in a large company in a big urban market. Even in smaller areas, the starting pay would be $70,000 – 75,000,” he says.

Curriculum Continually Evolves

The EDS program requires 36 credit hours of classroom instruction and labs. Courses are cutting-edge and are continually evolving to reflect changes in the fast-paced networking industry. Six of the courses offered have been developed just in the past three years, according to Caicedo.

“A lot of companies now are involved in the transformation to cloud computing, and this program prepares students to be involved in any kind of digital transformation by bringing data science and modern networking into the environment. It is all about setting up the infrastructure in a new way. The courses give everyone the skills to participate in a digital transformation project and prepare you to go wherever the future in computer networking infrastructure is going.” For many companies, the future will lead to a hybrid strategy with some networks and computer resources on premise and some in the cloud, Caicedo says. “This program prepares students to understand both worlds, the infrastructure that lives in your company’s building and the one that lives in the cloud.”

Current second-year master’s students Ankita Kalita and Harshawardhan (Harsh) Belsare came to Syracuse to study in the EDS program because they recognized their network careers shifting to include cloud technology. Ankita worked in operations on her company’s traditional Linux system and saw how much of the firm’s software and applications were being moved to the cloud. “I could see where things were going. I recognized that this is the way things in the industry are moving and thought this was the time I should progress and move into that technology,” she reflects.

Harsh held a role interacting with customers and felt he needed to understand what solutions they wanted. “They were looking for cloud installations, so I thought I needed to stay up-to-date. This course has all technologies I need to learn, and not just technical classes, but it also teaches how customers use them and some technologies that will be important in the near future.”

Important Blend

Both chose the iSchool for its variety of courses and the blend between teaching technical expertise and user experience. “I looked at what other schools had but the wide range of courses at the iSchool was the right combination,” Ankita confirms. “Once I’ve completed the course and get cloud certification from AWS, it’s then up to me as to how I progress and how I take my career after that.” She hopes to land a position in cloud operations, engineering or development operations.

For Harsh, a former presales network engineer, classes in networking and cloud computing were important, but he wanted to also learn about business operations and user experience. An internship that he held last summer has turned into his future job, and he’s joining Wex Inc. in Maine upon graduation as a cloud engineer. “I was looking to work in that kind of profile and looking to transfer my skills in to the cloud space, so I’m very excited. Because I was looking for that change, this program really helped me,” Harsh says.

Both say the iSchool EDS program is a great fit for students who like technology and automation but who want to understand not just the application side, but what happens behind the scenes. “You don’t only see the front-end role, but also the back end. Companies need good support operations on the back end to do data science, and this course lets you understand how you contribute in those roles, too,” says Harsh.

According to Ankita, the EDS program covers all facets of learning. “You’ll face challenges, but if you love technology, you’ll love the labs. For anyone interested in those kinds of challenges, you’ll love this program. Many areas of this work are not yet fully developed, so you’re learning on the overall journey. The courses are well designed, the professors help us if we have issues and you don’t have to go it alone. If you face anything, the professors are there to help you,” she reports.

Fast-Moving Program

“It’s a very exciting time to be teaching in this program,” Caicedo adds. “We’re under a revolution in terms of how networks are deployed. We’re just going through a new technology wave and these students are at the top of the wave, they’re riding it, they’re not being drowned by it, which is what is going to happen to those who are sticking with traditional technology [because] the traditional environment will be gone in 10 or 15 years.”

Applications for the EDS program, and all graduate programs at the iSchool, are accepted through June 1. For more information on the EDS program or the overall application process or upcoming online information sessions, visit the iSchool’s EDS page.